The final six contenders for this year’s Shetland Sports Awards, sponsored by The Shetland Times and Shetland Recreational Trust, represent a wide variety of pursuits.
In the sportsperson of the year category the three nominations are archer Billy Finnie, triathlete Lynsey Henderson and athlete Emma Leask.
In contention for team of the year are the women’s 4×400 metres relay team, Whalsay Football Club and the Shetland indoor bowls team.
Sportsperson of the Year (nominations)
The sport of archery has provided rich pickings for the Shetland team at the island games and probably the most consistent of all the competitors has been Billy Finnie. He won medals of all colours while competing in the recurve section, including individual and team golds at Gotland and Isle of Man, before switching to the compound bow in recent years.
This year in Åland the move paid off when Finnie took individual gold again, and also helped the team to bronze medals in the compound and head-to-head compound events.
Aside from the island games he has also enjoyed much success competing away from Shetland, including being a member of the Scottish team which defeated England last year at the Euro Nations Tournament.
From being a very talented swimmer in her younger days, along with her twin brother David a regular member of the inter-county team and setting records galore in the process, a year or so ago Lynsey Henderson moved into the more daunting field of triathlon competition.
In a short time she has established herself as Shetland’s best female exponent of the triumvarate of sports – swimming, cycling and running – and also able to beat most men in the isles.
Henderson’s biggest success to date probably came in June when she finished second in the Knockburn standard distance event (1,500m swim, 25 mile cycle and 10,000m run). Wearing a borrowed wetsuit for the swimming part, she finished ahead of Mairi Crawford, a silver medallist from the world championships in Canada last year.
The island games has regularly thrown up Shetland “golden girls” in individual events such as Tracy Conroy, Claire Wilson, Andrea Strachan, Sara Leith, Emma Gray, Michelle Sandison and Morag Hughson, and this year they were joined by runner Emma Leask.
Still aged only 15, she exceeded all expectations by winning the women’s 800 metres. Having only recently moved up from shorter distances, Leask ran a sensational time of two minutes 15.39 seconds, powering ahead of Gibraltar’s Kim Baglietto in the final 100 metres before pipping Eilidh Mackenzie of the Western Isles on the line in a photo finish.
Not content with that, an hour later, running the anchor leg of the 4×400 metres relay, Leask helped take Shetland home to the team bronze medal.
She is also an excellent netball player, and only recently was named in the Scottish under-17 squad.
Team of the Year
Women’s 4x400m Athletics Relay Team
Young athletes from the isles have achieved much in recent years, not least their success in the Sportshall competitions, and a quartet of them ranked things up a bit higher in July when they raced home to bronze medals in the women’s 4x400m relay team.
All still in their middle teens, the aforementioned Emma Leask was joined by Allie Elphinstone, Megan Smith and Inga Woods in the team. The latter three built up a sizeable lead over the first three laps before Leask made sure of third place behind Jersey and the Isle of Man, finishing in an excellent time of four minutes 7.50 seconds.
Whalsay Football Team
It was going to take something special to end Delting’s seven-year reign as Shetland senior champions and Whalsay, who have finished runners-up on several occasions, finally managed it this summer.
The team from the Bonnie Isle possess a mixture of youthful promise, provided from such as Richard Arthur, Gary Jamieson and Richard Goodlad, and experience, which they get from keeper Grant Thomson, centre half John Montgomery and midfielder Karl Williamson.
However, it was the oldest man of all, striker Michael Williamson, who signed off from his long and successful Whalsay career by scoring the goal which ended Delting’s hopes of an eighth title.
Shetland Indoor Bowls Team
Once again the bowlers did Shetland proud at the inter-island competition, organised in the unfortunate absence of the sport from the NatWest Island Games and held this year in the Isle of Wight at the end of September.
The 14-strong team returned home with 25 medals, including the overall silver medals. In the individual competitions Rosie Jamieson won silver in the ladies’ singles and Anne Robertson and June Bain won bronze in the pairs. Both fours teams also won bronzes, the men represented by Ian Leiper, John Sharp, Gibbie Pottinger and skip John Sales and the women by Effie Watt, Marion Henry, Moira Stevenson and skip Margaret Burnett.
Other members of the overall silver medal winning team were Graham Jamieson in the men’s singles and Alex Elphinstone and Ally Bain in the men’s pairs.